Steps for Finding an Internship

Steps for Finding an Internship


The internship search starts with YOU!

In order to effectively conduct an internship search, you need to first think broadly about what career fields interest you and what you hope to achieve during your time in Washington D.C.

  • Start by listing up to 5 broad career fields you are intrigued by.
  • Next, compile a list of skills that you are hoping to practice or develop in your internship.
  • Lastly, consider what type of organizations you would consider working for.

Beginning Your Search

Finding Potential Internships
  1. What internships are available in your field of interest? 
  2. What are your goals after graduation and what type of internship will give you valuable experience in that field?
  3. If you do not know exactly what you want to do after you graduate, think about a career path that you would like to "test drive" as an internship experience.
  4. How competitive are the internship positions you are interested in, based on their popularity and application restrictions?
  5. Learn where people with your major/interests could intern by checking out our Programs by Major page.
  6. Check for eligibility requirements and early deadlines. Some government offices require US citizenship (e.g. White House, State Department, Congress, U.S. Attorney's Office, etc.)
  • Start searching early. Some internship deadlines may be early in the quarter, keep an eye out if these interest you. Check out our Search Engines page for a list of search engines to explore.
  • Look at the language of your “favorite” organization/internship descriptions; are there any keywords that you can use to help you search for similar opportunities?
  • Apply to a variety of internships including smaller organizations, oftentimes they can provide a more engaging internship experience.
  • Search in the metro area beyond DC.
  • Do not be discouraged if they do not list an internship for quarter students or an internship for the quarter you are going to DC. You should email them, using our email templates, to see whether they would be interested in an intern for the time you are in DC.
  • Come into drop-in advising or make an appointment for personalized guidance with your internship search.
  • Keep your advisor updated with interview offers, special requirements, denials, and your application status. 
Internships with Early Deadlines

Because of criteria such as security clearance and background checks, some internship deadlines occur before the Washington Program deadlines. These organizations include the Department of State, Department of Defense, and the White House.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) – 12 months in advance of start date
U.S. Department of State – Jan-Feb (Fall), May-June (Spring)
The White House – April-May (Fall), July-August (Spring)
The Supreme Court – June 15 (Fall), October 15 (Spring)

Applying to Internships

Documenting the Process

Keeping track of where and when you are applying will make your internship application experience much easier to manage. Make sure to keep a detailed list of positions, organizations, deadlines, materials needed, and date submitted to make corresponding with multiple organizations more organized. You can use our internship search log to help document your experience over time. 

Compiling Your Application

Brief Instructions

  1. Save all of your documents in PDF format. It is unprofessional to send an editable document.
  2. Your name should always be in the document title. This makes it easy for the reviewer to find your materials.
    • An example: Last, First – Resume
  3. Email is always the preferred way to send applications. When attaching your internship application document to an email, use our template

For more details, refer to the Compiling Your Application page.

Securing Your Internship

Thank the Organization

Do not forget to thank the organization that has accepted you to be their intern. It is important to communicate with the internship coordinator as to the days you can work, take into consideration what day your class is on. Also, do not forget to ask about office hours and dress code. An example of this email can be found on our Email Templates page.